Virginia royalty visits Western Tidewater

Published 9:33 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

Savannah Lane, also known as Miss Virginia 2015, visited Southampton County on Thursday, where she shared her story and platform, Power of Performance, with second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Capron Elementary School and Riverdale Elementary School. Her Power of Performance is singing and so during her presentation she sang for the students and later on explained that singing is what has helped her through all the hardships she has faced in life.

Miss Virginia Savannah Lane visited The Tidewater News on Thursday after visiting with students at Capron and Riverdale elementary schools. - Rebecca Chappell | Tidewater News

Miss Virginia Savannah Lane visited The Tidewater News on Thursday after visiting with students at Capron and Riverdale elementary schools. – Rebecca Chappell | Tidewater News

That evening, she judged a pageant that was held at Riverdale that gave students an opportunity to breakout of their shell and showoff what makes them special.

Lane started off her presentation at the schools by sharing where she grew up, in Midlothian with her four siblings. She has a twin, Hailey, and a set of twin older sisters, Brianna and Caitlyn, and a younger brother, Brennon.

Growing up in a close family, her siblings had – and still have – a huge impact on her.

Lane’s older sister Brianna has autism and this is what started and shaped her platform.

“Honestly, its [her platform] just a direct result of the impact Brianna has on my life. Music was such a vital part of her overcoming her disabilities. It allowed me to come up with power of performance.”

Lane told the audience during presentations at the school about how when her and her sisters were growing up, they had to experience Brianna being bullied because of her disabilities. She used to sing to Brianna because that would make her smile and she loved to see her sister smile. Lane said that’s when she realized how powerful performance can be and that’s when she knew she wanted to spread this with the world.

“My Power of Performance platform emanates from a time when I was 8 years old and observed with a sinking heart the isolation of another sister, Brianna, due to her significant disabilities,” Lane said in the description of her platform. “My siblings and I found solace in music and I began a ministry of music. I found that the sharing of performing arts with the community is the best way to make sense of a chaotic and troubling world, to promote patriotism and to encourage the ‘Three Cs’ of confidence, compassion and love of country.”

Students at Capron Elementary made Lane a crown sign and signed there names on it.

Students at Capron Elementary made Lane a crown sign and signed there names on it.

She began doing pageants when she was 16 because she wanted to be able to have a bigger voice for her platform, be able to be a part of service opportunities and have access to vulnerable programs such as schools, hospitals, etc. Pageants also gave her the opportunity to win scholarship money, which also drew her in, as she wanted to be able to put herself through college.

Lane began her college career at the University of Virginia after high school. She is working towards obtaining a B.A. in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, and hopes to obtain a M.A. in Arabic Language and a J.D. (law degree). Her ultimate dream is to be a FBI agent and eventually serve in United States Congress. When Lane was 19 she decided that she wanted to enter into the 2015 Miss Virginia Pageant. However, a couple of months before the pageant, her world was turned upside down and the pageant became the last thing on her mind.

On, March 23, 2015, her twin sister Hailey collapsed while working out at the gym. Hailey, at the time, was a cadet in the Air Force Academy, but happened to be home visiting. Hailey had a virus attack her heart, which put her in a coma. She was in a coma until April 5 and then had to be rushed into surgery at VCU. Hailey was officially released from the hospital in May, but has had to undergo several surgeries since then. She just went through her last surgery on Monday.

Lane said that she will never be able to thank the team enough at VCU who saved her sister’s life and that medical miracles are truly performed at the hospital.

What Hailey went through impacted her and her platform became clear to her once again, as Hailey’s tragedy became known worldwide. During Hailey’s coma and her recovery, Lane would sing to her, helping her in the only way she knew how.

“All gifts of a life immersed in the arts were pressed into service for Hailey. The compassion that I felt for my precious twin was shared through my voice singing at her bedside, knowing that even in her coma, her ears still heard the music,” Lane said. “My confidence gleaned through musical performance and dance allowed me to become the spokesperson for my sister as she captured the heart of the nation and even the world through the #WeAreHaileyStrong social media campaign that raged like wildfire when news of a beautiful 19-year-old cadet’s mysterious collapse forced young adults to question false notions of invincibility.

“I fielded interviews from multiple major news affiliates with Hailey’s story featured in Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post and even the BBC,” she continued. “With the goodwill of the world behind her, Hailey continues to make miraculous strides after multiple surgeries. Still, in the dim light of a sterile hospital room where life and death hung in the balance and the hum of the world was so distant, the only things that I could offer to the one person closest to my soul was music. In those transcendent moments of terrible beauty, the Power of Performance was never so clear.”

After Hailey was home and moving through recover, she encouraged Lane to still participate in the Miss Virginia Pageant in June. After much hesitation, Lane agreed to do it.

Her talent was singing and when she was going on stage to perform, she looked down and Hailey was sitting in the front row to her surprise, as Hailey wasn’t supposed to able to make it. She said she cried on stage of joy and eventually went on to win the crown.

Since winning the crown in June, Lane has been all over Virginia, every single day, sharing her story and inspiring anyone she can, as she did on Thursday in Southampton.

“People think this job is really glamorous,” she said. “But it’s a lot of hard work. There are early mornings, long nights and changing in gas station bathrooms, but it’s still rewarding. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”

She shared all of this with students at Riverdale and Capron during the programs that were sponsored by ABC and sang for the students throughout her presentation.

At the pageant at Riverdale on Thursday night that was sponsored by Citgo, students, both, boy and girls, showed off what makes them special and answered a random question. Lane was a judge and also spoke to the audience and shared her Power of Performance with them.

“I was blown away by all of their performances,” she said. “I really loved being able to see all levels of abilities and the variety of people being represented in the pageant.”

Winners of the pageant were Cameron Jenkins and Katelin Dawson. A people’s choice award was given to Emily Meade.

Lane said she really enjoyed her time visiting to the area and loved being able to share her story and platform with a new group of people.

She also noted that even after June when she is no longer Miss Virginia, she will continue doing this job, going around, sharing her story and encouraging others to find their power of performance.